« AnteriorContinuar »
of losing what is obtained, in the uncertain attempt to get more? We hear good accounts of the Count de Chambord, and we doubt not his good intentions; but he is heir to the prejudices and traditions, as well as to the rights, of his family, and the promises of a prince in exile are not precisely the acts of a king firmly seated upon his throne.
The difficulty in the way of the reëlection of Prince Napoleon is that the constitution renders him ineligible for a second term, till after an interval of some years; but there is time enough to amend the constitution, and it ought to be amended in that particular, or at least so as to prolong the term of office beyond three years, to eight or ten. Our experience in the United States may not be in favor of reeligibility, but it proves clearly that four years are too short a term for a president to adopt and consolidate any policy, and that a change of administration every four years must very soon unsettle every thing. The restriction in the French constitution, as well as the short terın of office ordained by ours, betrays the insane jealousy, inherited from the old English Whigs, which is entertained by modern republicans of the executive power. No
No government is good for any thing without an efficient executive, and where, as in France, the executive is responsible, and is restricted in great part to the execution of laws made by an independent legislature, elected for a short term of years, thie
power of the executive is more likely to be too little than too great. Moreover, no large and populous country can long survive the repeated shocks which it must receive from the election of a president with extensive patronage every four years. If we do not lengthen the presidential term to eight or ten years, we Americans shall soon find the whole political business of the country resolving itself, directly or indirectly, into president-making. No harm can come, but great good must surely come, to France from amending her constitution so as to prolong to eight or ten years the presidential term of office; and she can now do it, though after a few years she will find it for ever too late.
We are aware that some of our French friends object to prolonging the term of office of the present incumbent, lest he attempt to get himself proclaimed emperor. But is this fear warranted? Is it generons ? Louis Napoleon has disclaimed all pretensions as the heir of his uncle; he has sworn to maintain the republican constitution; and it is an andeniable fact, that he has thus far observed with scrupulous fidelity his oath of office, and has labored to protect the republic alike against the anarchical attempts of the socialists, and the movements of the royalists for a restoration of fallen monarchy. What right has any one to distrust his intentions? For our part, we believe him resolved to support the republic, and we would rather trust the fate of France in his hands, with legislative power in the hands of the party of order, than, in the present state of opinion, to run the risk of a change in any direction.
But it is time to close. It may be said, that, in the whole of this article, we have been volunteering opinions on matters which only remotely concern ns, and on which we can, of course, have only imperfect information. We cannot deny that there is truth in the charge ; but the opinion of a disinterested foreigner, who takes a deep interest in French politics, who has no republican prejudices, although a supporter of republican government, and who looks at all political questions mainly in their bearing on religion and morals, perhaps may not be wholly without interest, nor wholly destitute of value, to French statesmen. We offer them in no intermeddlesome spirit, and in no arrogant tone, though we freely and frankly express them. France is the great central power of Europe, and, with the exception of Anstria, the only great European power to which the Catholic in other countries can turn with affection and hope. Austria has done and is doing well, and the present emperor bids fair to give additional lustre to the illustrious house of Habsburg, besides removing the stain from its escutcheon caused by the half-insane Joseph II. But France exerts, and must continue to exert, a powerful influence on all southern and western Europe, and on our own country in particular. She is as it were the missionary nation of the world, and it is not a matter of indifference to other nations whether she preaches the true gospel, or another.
or another. Her doctrines have immense weight in England ; they reign supreme in this country; Germany reaches us only through France, and from France we import not only our fashions, but our tastes, our principles, our ideas, our philosophy, and our literature. In France is the fountain whose streams flow either to fertilize or to deluge our land. This must be our apology for venturing to speak of French politics very much as if they were our own. We have spoken kindly, in love of that beautiful country, with which, though we have never seen it, we have so many pleasing associations, and whose literature has had more to do in forming our mind and taste than that of our own mother tongue. With our mother's milk we drew in a love of France, and we were early taught to be grateful to her for the generous aid she lent our own beloved country in her struggle to become a free and independent nation; and may God bless thee, beaatiful France ! and give thee, after thy long struggle, the freedom, the order, the peace, and the repose, thy heart so much needeth.
THE CUBAN EXPEDITION.
[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for October, 1850.)
A CONSIDERABLE portion of our countrymen have long coveted the possession of Cuba, and our government, pretending that there was danger of its falling into the hands of Great Britain, went so far a few years since, we believe, as to make overtures to the court of Madrid for its purchase. But these overtures, of course, were not listened to, and the pretence proved so utterly unfounded, that the government has been obliged to abandon it. Still, the desire for the acquisition of the island has continued, and many persons have thought that it could be effected by inducing and aiding the native Cubans to revolt from Spain, establish themselves as an independent republic, and then apply for admission into the American Union. In accordance with a plan of this sort, a military expedition was set on foot within our territories in 1849, to assist the Cuban patriots, or pretended Cuban patriots, to revolutionize the island. This expedition was prevented for the time being from embarking by the intervention of the federal government; but it has been renewed during the present year, and this time, successfully eluding the vigilance of the government, it actually effected a landing in sınall force, and, after a smart engagement, took possession of Cardenas, committed several murders, made the
governor of the town a prisoner, burnt his palace, and robbed the public treasury. But meeting a determined resistance, and not finding the native Cubans as ready to flock to its piratical standard as it was expected they would be, it abandoned Cardenas, after holding possession of it for eight hours, and effected its escape, or return, to the territories of the United States, apparently for reinforcements, in order speedily to renew the attempt in stronger force, and with a better prospect of final success.
As to the character of such an expedition against a power with whom we are at peace, or of the attempt to wrest from a friendly power one of its provinces and annex it to the Union, no matter under what pretext, there can be but one opinion among honorable men, and since its failure, the American press has been tolerably unanimous in condemning it; but we may well doubt if the press would be thus unanimous in condemning it, if it had succeeded, or if there were a fair prospect of successfully renewing it. Had Lopez, the chief of the expedition, succeeded, we have too much reason to believe that he would have been hailed as a hero, and welcomed to a seat in the United States senate by the side of the honorable senators from Texas.
It cannot be denied that a portion, we would fain hope not a large portion, of the people of this country, have very loose notions of right and wrong, and, when blinded by their passions or stimulated by their interests, find little difficulty in converting the pirate into the hero, and piracy and murder into wise and honorable policy. To this portion of our citizens religion and morality, municipal laws and laws of nations have either no meaning or an odious meaning when opposed to their interests or their passions, their thirst for gold or their lust for the acquisition of territory. Regarding the will of the people as the supreme law, and by a natural and easy process confounding the will of the people with the will of the mob, or the will of the people as the state with the will of the people outside of the constitution and laws, they hold that what any portion of the people wish and are able to do, they have the unquestionable and indefeasible right to do. Mistaking the sound and legal republicanism held by our fathers, and incorporated into our noble institutions, for wild and lawless radicalism, they assert the right of the people, or rather the mob, in every country, to rebel, whenever they please, against their legitimate sovereign, to overthrow with armed force the existing order whenever it ceases to suit their fancy or caprice, and to institute such new order in its place as shall seem to them good. Starting with this revolutionary principle, and assuming that all who avail themselves of it, and rise in arms
against their sovereign, are necessarily the party of freedom, struggling for liberty, for the inalienable rights of man, they assume that the cause of such party is always the cause of justice, of humanity, of God, and therefore that we are all free to rush to their aid, to assist them with our sympathy, our counsel, our treasure, our arms, and our blood, irrespective of existing laws, the rights of sovereigns, or the faith of treaties. Hence we find them always sympathizing with rebels, or the party at war with their rulers, applauding their prowess, rejoicing in their victories over the friends of order and legitimate authority, and mourning over their defeat. And hence these see in the attempts of the pirate Lopez and his crew nothing but the practical application of their own deeply cherished principles.
The fact that Lopez, after his return to the United States, was greeted with loud and prolonged applause, when he assured the citizens of Savannah that he had not abandoned his enterprise, but had consecrated his whole life to the liberation of Cuba, indicates only too clearly that these principles are by no means unpopular, at least in certain sections of the country. Indeed, the number of those who, if not ready to join actively in such an expedition as Lopez and his associates fitted out, yet hold that the Cubans have a perfect right, and we a perfect right to assist them, to rebel against their sovereign, to revolutionize the island, and, with the consent of our government, to annex themselves to the Union, is much larger, we fear, than a good citizen who regards the honor of his country is willing to believe, --so little value is placed upon the rights of sovereignty, and so little respect is paid even to the rights of property,
Certainly, we are far from asserting or insinuating that any considerable portion of our citizens are sufficiently depraved to joiu actively in a piratical attempt like that made by the recent Cuban expedition, but such an attempt is not wholly incompatible with the political creed of perhaps a majority of our countrymen. According to the plan of the conspirators, the citizens of this country were to appear to the world only as the allies or auxiliaries of the people of Cuba. It was assumed that there was, or that there could be created, a red-republican party among the creole population of the island, and it was through these that possession of it was to be obtained. The Cubans themselves were to appear before the world as the prime movers of the enterprise and chief actors in it. They were to proclaim them.